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Danger of outdoor fires high

Skip the campfire and watch that grill, state officials warn as the area's drought index rises.

By SAUNDRA AMRHEIN
Published May 29, 2004

TAMPA - Dry conditions have worsened as the Memorial Day weekend begins, prompting state officials to issue a wildfire warning for most of central and northeast Florida.

A warning is issued when humidity drops below 35 percent and wind speeds exceed 15 mph.

A drought index rates the danger of wildfires. Any index above 500 indicates high danger.

Hillsborough County's average drought index was 393, with the driest spot registering 530. The Pinellas average was 353; the high, 490. Pasco's average was 451; the high, 569. Hernando averaged 497; the high was 577. Citrus' average was 489; the high, 629.

The statewide average is 519. More than half of Florida counties are above 500, officials said.

Officials recommend that you:

Postpone outdoor burning, such as campfires.

Don't leave grills unattended. Douse coals with water.

Keep fire suppression equipment handy.

[Last modified May 29, 2004, 01:00:33]


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